Thursday, August 27, 2015

Angie Stone & Daughter Discuss Fight on T.D. Jakes Show‏




For the first time publicly, Angie Stone and her daughter sit down together to discuss their brutal fight that happened earlier this year and left Angie arrested and her daughter loosing teeth and publicly bashing her mom on Facebook.  The duo sit down with T.D. Jakes on his new talk show, “The T.D. Jakes Show, “ to discuss. The episode airs tomorrow, August 27th.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Resist by Tracy Lawson - Brief Review

About the Book:
In Resist, the second volume in the Resistance Series, Tommy and Careen are no longer na├»ve, frightened teenagers who believe the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense can protect them from terrorist attacks. They’ve discovered the OCSD’s miracle antidote’s true purpose: to create a population bereft of free will, incapable of defying the tyrannical OCSD. They join the Resistance, but on their first mission, things spin out of control and soon they’re on the run, dodging the quadrant marshals in a headlong dash for the Resistance’s secret headquarters. 

Being part of the Resistance presents them with new challenges. Not everyone working for change will prove trustworthy, and plans to spark revolution go awry with consequences greater than they could’ve imagined. Tommy and Careen’s relationship is tested when their philosophical differences and the pressures of interpersonal rivalries and jealousy put a strain on their romance. Can they make time for each other while trying to start a revolution?

About the Author:
Tracy Lawson knew she wanted to be a writer from the time she could read. In the first grade, she authored sixty-seven contact-paper bound books through her school's Young Authors program. Though that pace proved impossible to maintain, she always intended to be a real author one day. 

While working toward her Bachelor's degree in Communication at Ohio University, she studied creative writing with the late Daniel Keyes, author of Flowers for Algernon. After short stints as a media buyer and an investigative analyst, she settled into a 20-year career in the performing arts, teaching tap dancing in Columbus, Ohio, and choreographing musicals. Though her creative energies were focused on dance, she never lost her desire to write, and has a non-fiction book to her credit: Fips, Bots, Doggeries, and More, (McDonald & Woodward, 2012).

Tracy's love for writing Young Adult fiction is sparked by all the wonderful teens in her life, including her daughter Keri, a college student. Counteract is Tracy's first novel.

Q & A with the author:


What made you want to write books for young readers? 
I love reading YA, and I taught dance classes for twenty years before I got serious about writing. I spent a lot of time around my students, my daughter, and her friends, so it seemed natural to write for a teen audience.

How long did it take you to write Resist?
  I wrote Resist in a little over a year. It went a lot faster than Counteract (which took almost three years)because I knew the characters well and had planned ways to continue the story into the second book.

Do you have any interesting writing quirks? 
I like to write with pen and paper—preferably outside. I sit quietly until one of the characters starts to speak, and then I write down what they say. Some days I’ll scribble for pages and pages, and when I look at the clock I’ll be surprised how much time has flown by! I usually let those pages sit for at least a few hours, sometimes a few days, before I transcribe them into the computer, and that’s where the scenes really begin to take shape.  As far as writing snacks go, I’m partial to sunflower seeds and Diet Dr Pepper!

What does your family think of your writing? 
My family has been very supportive. My husband knows how to urge me on when I get discouraged, and my daughter says I’m a better choreographer now that I’ve become an author. I guess writing helped me refine how to advance a story through dance.  I haven’t shared much about what happens in Resist with my family. My five teenaged nieces can’t wait to read it, and I can’t wait to hear what they think!

Tell us where we can find your book and more information about you.  

My books are available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle, and on Barnes & Noble’s online store. If you live near Columbus, Ohio, you can buy signed copies of my books at three independent stores: The Book Loft of German Village, Mary B’s, and Urban Emporium. You can get the behind-the-scenes scoop on all things Resistance Series, see book trailers, and check out my blog at http://counteractbook.com. You can also find me on Twitter @TracySLawson and on Instagram as TracyLawsonAuthor.

My Thoughts:
I will be brief with my thoughts.  This book has a young adult target audience.  The story line is intriguing and engaging, but the language, sexual innuendos and overall relationship between the main characters turned me off.  Young adults are capable of better language and behavior than that displayed in the pages of this novel.  My challenge to the author: set your standards higher.  I was not impressed.  Sorry readers, if I come across and a prude, but my own personal standards are higher when it comes to the choices I make in reading material.  I chose poorly this time.  Perhaps you will have a different experience.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cheri Keaggy - No Longer My Own - REVIEWED!



Dove Award-winning singer/songwriter Cheri Keaggy released her ninth album, No Longer My Own, which she also produced, on Friday, August 7, 2015 from Psalm 91 Records and Elevate Entertainment.
 
"I gave a copy of No Longer My Own to my Dad," muses Keaggy. "After he had a chance to give it a good listen, he called me. Through broken-up tears, he said, 'You wouldn't have been able to write these songs if you hadn't gone through the things you've been through.' He went on to say, 'This is your best one yet.' It touched me that it moved him so deeply."
Keaggy believes this project might be her most bold recording to date.
 
"I have often referred to my last album, So I Can Tell, as my beauty-from-ashes project or my bleeding heart album," she confesses. "But, the Lord heals. And this album feels a little more broad. Brokenness humbles you and makes you more sensitive to the world around you and, perhaps, even more in tune with the Father's heart. It was a stretch, both spiritually and emotionally, and I stretched myself vocally too, going for notes I might have been too timid to reach before."  
 
Donning the producer's hat, Keaggy employed the talents of some of Nashville's top musicians, skillfully steering the project's instrumentation and her own trademark velvety vocals toward the pop and gospel genres. The result is a cohesive collection of Christ-focused songs that exude a sense of deep felt conviction and, ultimately, surrender.
 
No Longer My Own seeks to embolden fellow sojourners of the faith to live more fearlessly for Christ. Perhaps that sentiment is best expressed in the album's title cut, a song inspired by the "Covenant Prayer" popularized by John Wesley.  
 
My Thoughts:
I think the first verse of the first song on this album encapsulates all that God has poured into Cheri’s heart through the recording of this amazing album!

From Overcome:
What would You have me to write?
What would you have me to tell the world?
What could I possibly say?
How could I possibly change the way things are?
With so many hurting
Ominous evil and darkness is lurking
Where is the good in the world anymore, Lord?
   
Tell them I AM here
I AM watching it all
Please don’t fear
Don’t you know that I have overcome?

This entire project is filled with the truth that is born out of a life that has walked through brokenness and found healing in Christ alone.  Scriptural truth bathes this entire album, and the music highlights Cheri’s phenomenal vocal talent!  If you want to be blessed and encouraged pick up your copy today!  It is an amazing project!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cold As Ice by Mark Gilroy - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Cold As Ice
by
MARK GILROY

About the Book:
What can go wrong on a run on in Central Park on your last day of vacation? Even if it is brutally cold? Everyone told Detective Kristen Conner to stay inside, which guaranteed she would go outside—and stumble onto a gang murder that puts her in the cross-hairs of a Russian “Red Mafyia” hit man. 

Back in Chicago, murder strikes closer to home. Just down the street from where her mom lives, a popular schoolteacher, solid citizen, and great guy—he shovels snow for widows and volunteers to work with underprivileged kids—is found dead. It was supposed to look like an accident, but crime scene investigators discover more than one killing blow to the back of his head. 

When Detective Kristen Conner lands the case, she knows from day one who the key suspect is. That’s simple. The person most likely to kill you is someone close . . . someone you know and love. But his wife? The nice lady down the street. How could that be possible? Kristen is about to discover there is more violence beneath the surface of the working-class neighborhood she grew up than she ever dreamed possible. 

She’s also about to discover that when the Red Mafyia wants you dead, there is no place to hide. You better be ready to fight. Mix in her on-again, off-again relationship with FBI Agent Austin Reynolds, and Kristen Conner is once again swept into a world of danger, intrigue, and a confusing love life.

My Thoughts:
I have to stop going out in the cold.”  (Kristen Conner – Chicago Police)

Cold As Ice is the third installment of Mark Gilroy’s Kristen Conner Mystery series.   This book served as my introduction to the series, but I have a feeling that most of Kristen’s r career as a member of the Chicago Police Department is a combination of wily skills and being in the right place at the wrong time.  Her early morning run certainly landed her in the midst of a very dangerous series of events that spiraled out of control in a hurry! 

Kristen is a very easy-to-get-to-know person in spite of her self-proclaimed lack of relational skills.  She stays in a constant state of unrest, because she is constantly misunderstanding or over-thinking practically every single situation in her life.  From her mother, to her sisters to her co-workers, Kristen can’t seem to find a measure of peace about who she is and what purpose she serves in the lives of those she cares about most.  I kind of feel sorry for her some of the time, because relationships of any kind are so difficult for her.  I think Kristen longs for someone to ground her in life, and yet she keeps everyone, including God, at arms’ length.  After some of the loss and trauma she’s faced, it’s not too surprising, but even she has a hard time recognizing her self-imposed isolation.

Yet it is this very aspect of her personality that serves to protect her from the evil she encounters in her job at the Chicago Police Department.  As random as she seems to stumble into trouble, Kristen is very good at her job, and she garners the highest respect and admiration from her team members.  She has a very good method of intuition that enables her to discern inconsistencies in the stories she hears from the criminals’ whose lives impact her own. 

Kristen has experienced her share of trauma and loss during her lifetime, and at the point I encountered her, she was longing for a family of her own.  I look forward to seeing what Mark Gilroy has planned for Kristen’s future!  I am happy to recommend this series to everyone!

About the Author:
Mark "M.K." Gilroy is a 30-plus-year publishing veteran, having worked in just about every area of the industry, from his first job as a sports writer for a local newspaper while in college to proof reader, occasional box packer, vice president of editorial and marketing, publisher, and everything in between.

When not writing Detective Kristen Conner novels, he creates projects for publishers, retailers, ministries, and businesses as a freelance publisher.

Gilroy's debut novel, CUTS LIKE A KNIFE, quickly garnered critical acclaim and is a tribute to his love for character-driven mysteries and thrillers. His second novel featuring Detective Kristen Conner, EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE, has received similar accolades. The third Kristen Conner novel, COLD AS ICE, hits the market soon.

Gilroy's education includes the BA in Biblical Literature and Speech Communications, the M.Div, and the MBA.

Gilroy is the father of six children. He resides with his wife Amy in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Where Hope Grows - REVIEWED


About the Movie (from the website)

.Calvin Campbell is a former professional baseball player sent to an early retirement due to his panic attacks at the plate. Even though he had all the talent for the big leagues, he struggles with the curveballs life has thrown him. Today, he mindlessly sleepwalks through his days and the challenge of raising his teenager daughter. His life is in a slow downward spiral when it is suddenly awakened and invigorated by the most unlikely person – Produce, a young-man with Down syndrome who works at the local grocery store.

Calvin slowly loses the chip on his shoulder as he begins to experience the world through Produce’s eyes. Faith, work, purpose and most importantly family, blossom into Calvin’s life as their friendship develops. The unlikely pair becomes intertwined giving Calvin’s life new meaning and purpose, but unfortunately leads to tragedy due to single decision echoed from Calvin’s past.

Where Hope Grows is a story of finding redemption through faith, hope and love.

My Thoughts:

Where Hope Grows is a sweet reminder that you never really know what others around you are walking through.  The character of Calvin Campbell (played by Kristoffer Polaha) is a barely functioning alcoholic whose life is changed by the unconditional love of a young man who serves as a grocer in the produce section of the local grocery store. (David DeSanctis)  It sounds rather unlikely to read it in a synopsis, but the truth that lies within the story is all too real, and the world would indeed be transformed if we all took a note from David DeSanctis’ character and loved others as Christ loved us.

This is a great family movie, because in addition to the realistic and much-needed faith message, there isn’t an attempt to make everything smooth and easy for the characters.  Broken lives, shattered homes, addiction – these are laid bare within the context of the movie, and the consequences become rather brutal.  The film has a strong redemptive message, as well as one that emphasizes the need for community and friendship.

I am eager to recommend this film to you and I am proud to have it in my movie collection!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin - REVEIEWED


Through Waters Deep (Revell, August 2015)

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war.

Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges---and dangers---await them.

Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and 
romantic story.

Purchase your copy HERE.

My Thoughts:
How many good things in her life had she missed due to fear?”  (p. 335)

Mary Stirling’s fear has a head on collision with faith and selfless bravery in Sarah Sundin’s latest novel, Through Waters Deep.  Working as a secretary in a Navy ship yard on the brink of the Second World War, Mary faces unexpected danger and an unexpected chance at romance!  Quite a combination when those two elements are intertwined with the imagination and writing of a skillful wordsmith!  If you enjoy the WWII era like I do, you will totally enjoy this novel!

Mary tends to bumble into a lot of her information even when she is purposefully trying to collect information for the FBI.  Sleuthing is not her strong suit, but the selfless way she pours herself into the task reveals a far greater strength than even she recognizes in herself.   Ensign Jim Avery begins to notice Mary’s strength and inner beauty, but not before both of them find themselves in imminent danger!

I wouldn’t have thought that saboteurs would be busy prior to a major World War, but in the context of this novel, the overall sensitivity and suspicion of one group of people toward another serves as the perfect catalyst for the mystery at hand!  The motives are also realistic for the time period, and the entire plot line is filled with realistic relationship struggles set against a backdrop of mystery and intrigue that is driven by fear.


Fear is something that Mary recognizes in herself, and it is brilliant to watch her character grow and change as she struggles to overcome the emotion that keeps her bound.  This is a finely written novel that begins the Waves of Freedom series! If you enjoy historical romances – this is the novel you have been searching for! 

About the Author:
Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every LetterOn Distant ShoresIn Perfect Time, and the Wings of Glory series. In 2014, On Distant Shores was a finalist for the Golden Scroll Awards from both AWSA and the Christian Authors Network. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Where Hope Grows - releasing on Blueray and DVD August 25th! - Review to come!

DVD arrives on Digital HD August 11 and on Blu-ray™ (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and On Demand August 25 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment. Receiving 5 out of 5 Doves from The Dove Foundation, Where Hope Grows is an uplifting tale of an ex-baseball player who finds salvation when he befriends a grocery-store clerk who has Down syndrome. Theatrically released in 2015, and written and directed by Chris Dowling (Rock Slyde), the heartwarming film features touching performances from a stellar cast including Kristoffer Polaha (TV’s “Ringer,” TV’s “Life Unexpected”), Billy Zabka (The Karate Kid), Brooke Burns (Shallow Hal, TV’s “Baywatch”), Kerr Smith (TV’s “The Fosters,” TV’s “Dawson’s Creek”), Michael Grant (TV’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”), Alan Powell (The Song) with Danica McKellar (TV’s “The Wonder Years”) and introducing David DeSanctis as “Produce.”

Calvin Campbell (Polaha), a former pro baseball player with a self-destructive streak, has his faith in God restored when he meets Produce (DeSanctis), an inspirational man with Down syndrome. As their friendship develops, Calvin is reminded that hope grows in the most unlikely places.

The Where Hope Grows home entertainment bonus material includes deleted scenes, plus two featurettes that look at the casting of “Produce” and a discussion of the “R-word,” along with an audio commentary from writer/director Chris Dowling and actor David DeSanctis.  The Blu-ray and DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $24.99 and $19.98, respectively.
Watch a clip
https://www.wetransfer.com/downloads/e69f1ace3e7029cbbc0b1039d8f121b720150817192225/aad424